GEAR UP professionals, partners, teachers and collaborators convened in Seattle, WA this week to attend the 2012 GEAR UP West Conference. Across the western region and the entire country, GEAR UP has provided thousands of students and families with desperately needed academic and financial support necessary to succeed. Thousands of schools, administrators, and educators have been equipped with the tools needed to prepare students for college success as a result of GEAR UP services. The conference is an opportunity for practitioners to come together and collaborate on successful strategies and encourage discussion around college access.
William H . Gates Sr. (pictured above) of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation opened the conference on Sunday night with funny and meaningful discussion on the importance of an engaged and educated workforce. He stressed the importance of what he called ‘the bigotry of low expectations’ in schools and shared how his experiences working in public schools with the Gates Foundation has only solidified his stance that education is the ultimate expression of American ideals. His parting words were: “A democratic idea: all lives have equal value.”
Sunday night saw the screening of First Generation including a Q & A with the filmmakers. Narrated by Golden Globe nominee Blair Underwood, FIRST GENERATION tells the story of four high school students – an inner city athlete, a small town waitress, a Samoan warrior dancer, and the daughter of migrant field workers – who set out to break the cycle of poverty and bring hope to their families and communities by pursuing a college education. Shot over the course of three years and featuring some of our nation’s top educational experts this 95 minute documentary explores the problem of college access faced by first generation and low-income students and how their success has major implications for the future of our nation.
GEAR UP West is a collaborative regional conference for college access practitioners from the western states of the US.
This year’s conference featured:
- Pre-conference session on dropout prevention
- Bill Gates, Sr. (above)
- First Generation film screening and Q&A with the filmmakers
- Dr. Debra Saunders-White, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Higher Education Programs
- Leadership Track for program directors, superintendents, principals, and administrators
- D.J. Eagle Bear Vanas
- Aric Bostick and the youth leadership presentation.
- Over 50 breakout sessions
This year the conference drew nearly 600 participants from eight western states: AZ, CA, ID, MT, NV, OR, WA, & WY, as well as attendees from Wisconsin, Vermont, and across the country. Attendees include GEAR UP and other college access program staff, evaluators, higher education professionals, and middle and high school teachers, counselors, and administrators. All those working to help low-income and underrepresented students prepare for and succeed in college were in attendance and made for lively and informative breakout sessions as well as important collaborative relationships being built across the region.
Share with us your regional collaboration or GEAR UP partnerships: comment on the blog or email us!